James Lewin aka “The Rock King”

Peakirk born James Arthur Lewin would have been a well known name in Peterborough from the 1890s through to his death in 1942, not as James Lewin but as “The Rock King”, the man who sold vast quantities of rock, nougat and sweetmeats from his stall on Westgate.

Born to a Peakirk based shoemaker in 1868, James worked the local land before joining a local “sugar boiling” business from where he branched out to make his own confectionary at the princely age of 19. Aside from manning his stall in Westgate, he toured all across the eastern counties selling his wares at markets where he became immensely popular with the local kids who would rush to his stall on arrival because of his reknowned generosity in giving away sweets to the young ones !

The “Rock King” was a larger than life character not just in his stature but by virtue of wearing a large stetson hat always supported by a pink carnation buttonhole.

When not out on tour, he lived on Garton End Road for many years before moving to Daisy House on Brook Street. He died in January 1942 just after celebrating his Golden Wedding Anniversary with his Glapthorn born wife Elizabeth with whom he had ten children. His son, James Arthur Jnr, continued the business from his home at Mead Close, Walton until 1951 before choosing Peter Brotherhoods as his preferred source of income !

The locations for these images are unknown but are likely to be a mix of Peterborough and the Lynn Mart at Kings Lynn where he was also very popular and still remembered today.

Peterborough Lads

A mystery image showing a group of four lads somewhere in Peterborough in the early 1900s.

The only clue is that the photo was sent to a Mrs RD Frusher of 24 Williamson Avenue.

Thomas Barrass, Baptist Minister

Baptist minister, Rev Thomas Barrass (nicknamed ‘the Nonconformist Bishop of Peterborough’) whose popularity was behind the construction of a new building on Queen Street capable of seating 800 people in 1870.

The building only lasted for 35 years until, early in the morning of October 16, 1905 the chapel and most of the “Barrass Memorial Hall” built in 1904 alongside were completely burned down leaving only the shell of the buildings standing. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it is listed among the ‘great fires of Peterborough’.

Pictured below are the buildings before the fire and the devastation afterwards, along with smartly dressed onlookers !

Funeral of Rev. John James (1868)

The funeral march for and burial of Reverend, later Canon, John James dating back to December 1868.

Dr John James, born 1782, held many significant roles within the area including headmaster of Oundle School (1809-1829), Vicar of Maxey (1832), Vicar of St John’s in Peterborough (1833-1850) and Canon of Peterborough Cathedral for forty years until his death in 1868.

He was buried in the grounds of Peterborough cathedral where a  memorial plaque on the cathedral walls described him as a “preacher and a writer” and also referred to him as a “learned, loyal and devoted priest”.

Barfords Football Club

An undated team photo marked Barfords Football Club which may well relate to Barford and Perkins, one of the forerunners to Perkins Engines.

Nobby the Tramp’s Golfing Adventure (2002)

In August 2002, a passer by added a set of golf clubs, complete with trolley, to Nobby’s Oundle Road bus shelter ….. it was never clear whether this was an act of generosity or simply the actions of a frustrated golfer who had just completed the round from hell on the local course !

The sight of Nobby practising his swing behind the shelter became a source of much amusement amongst the locals which included a reporter for the Peterborough Herald & Post newspaper who decided to approach Nobby with a view to grabbing an exclusive photo or two.

Despite his appearance, our Nobby was a sharp character and saw his chance to give the local reporter an even bigger exclusive than he could ever have dreamt of ….. he revealed that he was actually a decent golfer and would be playing at the forthcoming North West of Ireland Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club, in County Donegal !

Not only was the newspaper taken in by this amazing, if not slightly crazy, story they even provided him with financial support to travel over to Ireland !

Presumably to their surprise, when the professionals teed off on the 25th August, Nobby was to be found behind his iconic home still practising his swing !

No doubt feeling a little embarrassed by it all, Nobby initialy told the paper, “It wasn’t a joke and I had good intentions of going and playing but I guess it was not meant to be. I wasn’t accepted.” He then returned the “sponsorship” money that he had been given.

However, he later confessed to the rival Evening Telegraph newspaper, “I never expected this to make it into print. Of course I would love to play in a professional golf tournament but a golf pro ? You must be joking !”

“If I was to win the prize money it would be my way out of having to live in a bus shelter – it would be a dream come true and of course the Irish guys could still pick me up – I’d be in Ireland in time for the second day’s play. I’m always happy to make myself available for such tournaments” he said with a laugh !

A spokesperson for the tournament commented, “Players cannot simply apply to take part in a tournament like this, they have to qualify. We do have a number of invited guests who are taking part in the event this year, but no one with the name Nobby.”

As they say …… you couldn’t make it up !!!